Is it really that time of the week again already? I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the whole “passage of time” thing – surely it’s some sort of crazy conspiracy…
Much like this week’s announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 by Valve – which is apparently a crazy conspiracy to charge money for a videogame! No way! While this announcement wouldn’t be noteworthy on its own (Critical Distance ain’t about the previews and hype, y’all), it’s noteworthy because of the hyperbolic indignation brought out in some people who were expecting more free stuff would be added to the first game. Apparently when you give stuff away for free in some of your games, you now have to do it in all of your games.
Matthew Wasteland this week writes about how ‘The Cake is a Metaphor‘ for the dirty business of game development. If Stringer Bell were here, I’m sure he’d make some kind of insightful comment about how “What you’re thinking is that we have an inelastic product here. But what we have here is an elastic product.”
And while we’re on the subject of videogame game economics, Ian Bogost wrote an insightful column at Gamasutra the other week on the economics behind iPhone App Store game sales. Check out ‘I want my 99 cents back‘ for its discussion of consumer impressions of disposability and price points.
Michael Abbott of ‘The Brainy Gamer’ wrote somewhat disparagingly about the steady stream of a particular type of game that seems to be dominating the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) this year. In case you aren’t aware, E3 is seen as something of a yard-stick for the industry – everyone who is anyone in the games is strutting their stuff on the show floor and it’s possible to quickly glean an overview of what the next 12 to 18 months looks like in terms of game releases. On this front, Abbott questions whether the industry is really making any progress towards a (perhaps idealistic) place where games cater to more than just “adolescent male power fantasies”. In the post ‘Thank you sir, may I have another?‘, he opines that,
It’s not my nature to be cynical, but the overwhelming preponderance of histrionic combat-oriented games, nearly all delivered in spectacular cinematic style, sends a clear message to gamers everywhere. ‘We’re bringing you bigger, edgier, and more visually arresting versions of the games we brought you last year, and the year before that. Sure, we’ve got casual games too, and a new slate of appalling games for girls; but we know you know where the action is.’ To which gamers are apparently eager to reply “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
If you are looking to fuel your E3 and games industry cynicism, look no further than these quotes pulled from an article published on Gamasutra and sister site Game, Set, Watch. Steve Gaynor on twitter questioned whether one can justifiably say that a game “sets the new gold standard on limit-pushing” while Mitch Krpata pulled out the quote that “The videogame press “Whoops, cheers, [and] howls” when new games are announced.” Isolated on it’s own like that, it sure sounds more like a criticism than a ringing endorsement of the state of the industry.
If, however, you are looking for something to make yourself feel good about the industry, you need look no further than Tom Francis’s post “All books found to be reasonably or very good” which pulls the latest 20 book reviews by The Onion’s AV Club with some interesting results. “And you thought Games Journalism didn’t use the whole scale” he says.
PixelVixen does another column for Suicide Girls [editor note 2017: dead link] and focuses on how inFamous strikes a nice balance between ‘feeling like a God’ and ‘feeling like a regular dude’.
On TigSource they’re doing a ‘classics’ week where they cover a bunch of old, underappreciated, but still highly playable Indie Games. Who knew that the indie scene was old enough to have classics?! Fantastic! (and that’s not me being facetious)
As I said at the start, Critical Distance ain’t about the previews, but I make a small exception for Tom Chick’s feelings about how, after playing Red Faction Guerrilla, he has been spoilt for realistic destruction in his action games.
After over twenty hours of playing time with a game so shrewdly built around the idea of breakable objects, it’s a bit strange to see demos of other games where rockets bounce harmlessly off buildings and trucks don’t plow through houses they hit. It’s like going back to black-and-white TV, a big clunky iPod, or manual steering.
Which reminds me of a post on my personal blog (shill alert!) called ‘A Spoiled Gamer, Am I‘, in which I lamented that Far Cry 2‘s smooth animations and high level of first person embodiment had ruined me for the jilted animations of Fallout 3. Of course, I got over it and I’m playing Fallout 3 again right now, so I wonder if something like this is just temporary. I kind of hope not, actually.
And lastly for the week, Rock, Paper, Shotgun are doing a series on classic board games and the lessons Kieron Gillen is taking away from them to apply to videogames. Here’s the introduction with links to the rest in the series (some of which are as yet forthcoming).
And that’s your lot for the week – As always, if there’s a post you think should be included in TWIVGB that was particularly excellent, feel free to leave a link in the comments or email us at editors@this-website. Ciao for now!